nissin santouka toroniku tonkotsu: baked good
You can’t take it with you. Or can you? A joint venture between Seven & I Holdings, the Japanese parent company of 7-Eleven convenience stores and - yep, you guessed it - Nissin Foods has brought us instant noodles from three of the island nation’s most renowned ramen shops: Hakata’s Ippudo, Sapporo’s Sumire Ramen, and Asahikawa’s Santouka. Available exclusively at 7 & I conbini in Japan, this triptych of “premium” instant noodles really knock it out of the park like Hideki Matsui on a fastball at Shea.
Toroniku Tonkotsu Shio comes complete with an indivually-wrapped pickled umeboshi, all the better to replicate the experience of a quick slurp at Santouka proper. Though the instant tonkotsu soup lacks quite the same candied nautical glaze of its shop-brewed inspiration, it is very robust and full-flavored and, most importantly, bathed in the same great lard that has become an Asahikawa signature.
Bring your water to a rolling boil and fill the lovely blue bowl to the dotted line. Four minutes later, you may notice something strange. It took me a moment to put my finger on it, but the realization came as I was preparing to take pictures of this nice steamy bowl. Instant Santouka ramen wasn’t steaming at all. Did I somehow miscalculate? Was the water not hot enough? To the contrary, the dense layer of oil was suffocating the soup and baking the noodles like a liquid-walled oven. I broke the surface placidity with my chopsticks; tiny puffs of steam escaped. Oh boy. Did I mention top flight? One can only imagine a shivering northerner in the Hokkaido snow, powering down a bowl of Toroniku Tonkotsu Shio ramen, noodles with the concentrated heat of the sun.
It’s called Toroniku ramen for a reason, as Nissin generously supplies vacuum-sealed chunks of fatty, non-dehydrated marinated chashu. They are but slivers sure, and not quite the heaping portions found in say, the company’s Goota line of instant noodles, but they get the job done and are eerily reminiscent of the real deal at a Santouka ramen-ya.
As for the noodles, they’re thick and yellowish, a fair approximation of Asahikawa’s toothy strands.
Even the green onions and shinachiku hold up under scrutiny; for a packaged ramen, the bamboo shoots taste fresher and fuller than at many an actual ramen shop. If any compromises were made in the design of this very premium bowl of instant ramen, it’s probably with the wood eared mushroom. They’re cut just a little too short and straight. I’m not complaining in the least.
Further reading: rameniac reviews Santouka in West Los Angeles!
Even further reading: a pictorial of Santouka’s grand opening in West L.A.!!
And the test post that startd it all: ビクター plays with his Santouka toroniku!!!